Internet Birthday

Jul 9, 2009

My Internet Birthday recently passed. What is an Internet Birthday, you ask? Why it’s the arbitrary date that I’ve chosen to give when a website wants to know my birthday. You see, gentle reader, the vast majority of websites that ask for your birthday have no real reason to have it; most of the time it will simply be used for marketing. Whether or not you really care about that relatively innocuous usage, the real danger is that a lot of legitimate, organizations such as financial institutions, hospitals, and governments, use your birthday as an identifying piece of information—as though providing such a date is a verification of the person speaking or filling out a form.

Because of this abuse of a fairly public piece of information for the purpose of security, it is reasonable to want to keep your date of birth somewhat secret—or at least refrain from giving it to everyone who asks. Unfortunately, many services require you to provide a date of birth when signing up; some will give you a bonus if you give them your birthday. So as to not miss out on these services, I simply came up with a date that I use as my birthday when asked on the internet. I no longer hesitate to provide the information asked. Why not use a random date every time you sign up? Sometimes, particularly if you forget your password, a website will want you to enter your birthday at a later time to verify who you are. By choosing one date and sticking to it, you can always give the correct information.

Choosing an Internet Birthday

To come up with an internet birthday, simply choose a date!  Afraid you won’t remember?  Understandable.  Choose something that makes sense to you: the first or last day of the month you were born, the day you were born modulo 12 to get a new month, or take Cheshire Catalyst’s suggestion and use the start or end date for your astrological symbol.  As for the year, in most cases keeping the same year as your actual birth is the easiest and effective enough for our purpose.  If you’re really paranoid, then just round to the nearest half-decade

Internet Family

Cheshire has updated his essay to suggest that an internet “Mother’s Maiden Name” is also beneficial—and I agree.  I have an entire family based upon characters from a movie that I use for my financial accounts.  If you’re serious about security, or you just can’t remember the surnames names of your recent ancestors, then an Internet family based upon your favorite (or not so favorite) story is a great route to take.